On Tuesday, the Big Ten announced details surrounding the 2024-25 basketball schedule for both the men's and women’s sides of the conference. Tuesday’s announcement provides a look into how the conference is changing with the addition of four Pac-12 schools. The focus of the announcement is on changes coming to the Big Ten Tournament for next season when the conference will go from 14 teams to 18.
Starting next season, the tournament goes from including all 14 programs to accepting only the top 15 schools, keeping the five-day tournament schedule. Also, instead of two games on the first day of the tournament, the additional team creates three Wednesday matchups, giving seeds 5-9 a single bye and the top four teams still receiving the double-bye.
Taking a look at the current 2023-24 season conference standings for all 18 teams, the No. 8 ranked Ohio State women’s basketball team would have no issues with the tournament format, entering as a No. 1 seed after beating the Iowa Hawkeyes, who in turn beat the Indiana Hoosiers.
For the programs on the outside looking in, the winless-in-Big-Ten-play Rutgers Scarlet Knights would sit in 18th place. Then, two out of a three-team group including the Purdue Boilermakers, Northwestern Wildcats, and Oregon Ducks would join Rutgers.
On the men’s basketball side, it’d be close, but head coach Chris Holtmann’s Buckeyes would enter as the No. 14 seed. That’s thanks to the USC Trojans sitting at the bottom of the Pac-12 currently with a 2-7 record. The Buckeyes of last year might not have made the tournament at all under the new format. In the current standings, the Trojans would be in a three-team group including the Rutgers Scarlet Knights men and Michigan Wolverines.
Schedule-wise, the Big Ten announced that the number of conference games will remain the same next season, with the men playing 20 games and women playing 18. However, the breakdown of that schedule is changing. Single-play home/away matchups would rotate each season, with “competitive balance, geography and rivalries” determining annual two-play opponents.
While next year's schedules and beyond are still unknown — and unlikely to come out until the summer — games like Ohio State vs. Michigan and USC against the UCLA Bruins are as close to locked in for two games a season as anything.
What is likely to fall by the wayside are games that a 14-team conference has given more opportunities to play. For example, Ohio State and the Iowa Hawkeyes on the women’s basketball side; on top of playing in the largest NCAA regular season crowd of the season on Sunday, Jan. 21 at the Schottenstein Center, the Scarlet and Gray face superstar guard Caitlin Clark again to end the regular season in Iowa City.
To read the full announcement, click here. It's the first competitive change for the soon-to-be 18-team Big Ten conference, but likely not the last.